If you’ve been charge with federal criminal conduct, you most likely have an endless stream of questions that need to be answered. When it comes to fighting criminal charges, knowledge is your best defense in coming out on top. Here are a few frequently asked questions about federal crimes and federal defense to get you started.
How does a federal crime differ from a state crime?
Although many crimes are prosecutable on both the federal and state level, there is still a distinction between the two. The key difference between a federal and state crime is which level of government passed the legislation that made the activity illegal. Federal crimes are in violation of laws passed by the US Congress, while state crimes are in violation of laws passed by a state of local authority.
How will federal sentencing guidelines affect my case?
If a court finds you guilty of committing a federal crime, the judge will be required to sentence you according to federal sentencing guidelines. When a sentence is handed down, there is both a minimum and maximum punishment, varying depending on a number of factors. The range of punishment a defendant is subject to can be determined by factors such as how much money was involved in the crime, how involved the defendant was, and whether or not they had committed a similar crime in the past. In many cases, judges are obligated to hand down these sentences, unless the case is particularly unusual or the defendant meets the requirements for an exception. However, in recent years, the constitutionality of these mandatory minimums has been challenged. In some cases, judges are only required to use mandatory sentencing guidelines as a guideline.
When is an appropriate time to contact an attorney?
Many who are under investigation for federal crimes assume that they don’t need to contact an attorney until after they have been charged with a crime. It’s important to keep in mind that an attorney should be contacted immediately, as you have many rights during an investigation that need to be protected. An experienced criminal defense attorney will keep your best interests in mind, and most likely be the determining factor in how your case turns out.